My right to hate

I can’t help it – I hate Brussels sprouts. Even ones cooked with apricots and bread crumbs and lots of butter. I hate Brussels sprouts.

Hatred. Is it my right to hate?  What is it about hatred that makes me draw in a quick breath or, were I Catholic, I might cross myself?  The Bible, the Torah, the Bhagavad gita have pretty strong things to say about hatred.

It’s not just brussels sprouts I hate. There are situations I hate too. I hate famines and injustice and abuse and inequality. I hate children working in factories. I hate children suffering from sickness and disease. I hate women being beaten and mutilated for religious or tribal reasons. I hate war. I hate genocide. I hate the fact that one of my students has just become her own only living relative because her mother died after only four weeks of fighting cancer.  I hate that human beings seem to perpetually hurt other human beings.

But here’s something else I’m not always keen to admit – there are some people I hate too. And no, I’m not talking about Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin. I’m talking about real, living people. They aren’t people I keep in my circle of friends or even acquaintances. Invariably, they are people who have hurt me. I’m not proud of this nor am I asking to be excused. I don’t want hatred in my life. I do believe it destroys and weighs us down. I do believe love is better than hatred.

But the question is – do I have a right to hatred?  I don’t hate for no reason but is hatred, justified or not, a right?  Do I have a right to love whom I want to love?  And conversely, do I have a right to hate whom I want to hate?  The Charter tells me I have no right to publish hateful things about people. And I have no right to commit crimes or acts of violence because of my hatred. In fact, society is so disturbed by this idea that punishments are harsher and more far-reaching when it is determined that hate was the reason, the motivation for the crime. When hatred is geared at people because of the colour of their skin or because of their sexual orientation or their gender, we have said as a society that we won’t accept it, that we will punish those crimes, that we will stand with those victims?

But what if no crime has been committed?  What if I keep my hatred outside the purview of the law?  What if I hate because I’ve been hurt or because I don’t like the colour of your skin or because your sexuality intimidates me but I keep it to myself?   Without becoming too Bible-thumpish, this concept (which appears in many different religious texts) has always made me think: anyone who hates his brother (or sister) is a murderer and you know that no murderer has (eternal) life in him (or her).

What if my hatred only rears its head in the subtle turns of phrases, in the movies I choose to see or the books I choose to read or the friends I choose to keep?  Then what?  What if my hatred never turns into physical violence, at least not by me?  Is it my right to hold onto hatred? To build my life around those inner world pillars of hatred?    But I’m not sure humans really have the ability to keep their hatred just to themselves. What we believe about the world necessarily influences the choices we make, the words we say, the acts we commit. And when hatred leaves us and enters into another’s space, I believe hatred destroys and kills. Maybe not in a way that looks like murder under the law but in ways that kill life and freedom and sense of worth and well-being.  Would you hold me responsible for the actions of someone who hears me talk about my hatred and takes over the burden herself, with less self-control and more displays of physical violence?

A recent Supreme Court of Canada trial, the murder (and celebrations of that murder) of Moammar Ghadafi, and an ongoing discussion with office mates all spurred me into this writing frenzy. Once again, I have mostly questions that circle back in on themselves and slippery ideas that are incredibly hard to hold onto.  And I’d welcome any feedback, whether in love or otherwise.

Do I have a right to hate?



I can find Polaris but I have no idea how to use the stars as a map. I know how to build a fire and start it – with matches. I know how to check my oil but not change it. I even know how to jump start manual transmission cars but these days I only drive automatic transmission cars. I think I could catch a fish but I’ve never actually done it. Would I know which wild berries are safe to eat?  Probably not. But I can tie complicated knots. And I can memorize long series of numbers. I’m not sure how much help that will be if there’s a nuclear holocaust.

I wish there was a ‘how to survive’ course I could sign up for. I suppose there is. It’s called Boy Scouts. Missing the boat on that one by being both female and adult though.  Go figure.

Five Reasons I Prefer Minority Governments

Okay.  I admit it –  that’s a bit of a misleading title.  It should probably be something more along the lines of “Why governments with nearly unlimited power scare me”

1.  “Tough on crime” omnibus bills.  If national crime rates are at their lowest  since the 1970s and the youth crime rate in particular is 11% lower than it was a decade ago, why this obsession with getting “tough on crime”? (Need proof?  See this: Indeed there are areas in Canada where crime is increasing.  It’s not a coincidence that these places are also experiencing high levels of urban poverty, school drop-out rates, addictions, psychological disorders,  and gang violence.  Researchers repeatedly report that intervention in pre-school does more to reduce crime levels than stricter, longer jail terms.  Where is the extra funding for education?  or health care?

2. New immigration policies.   But really, didn’t we see this coming?  This was one of Harper’s main campaign platforms.  (I tried to find the television commercials made for Quebec during the last federal campaign but they’ve mysteriously been removed from the web.  If anyone can find a link, I’d love to share it.  I’m thinking of the “Immigration clandestine” ads.)  The irony is, of course, that  95% of us are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants.  Yet now that most of us feel comfortably “Canadian”, we’re not so sure we want to offer the same hospitality to “others”.

3.  The end of the Wheat Board.  Despite a public plebiscite in which 62% of farmers said they wanted to keep the Wheat Board, it’s being dismantled.  Now that Harper’s got Ontario’s support, watch out rural Canada, he’s not quite as interested in keeping you happy!  Wanna read about this?

4.  The return of the “Dominion of Canada”.  I was having breakfast with Professor Meren of the Université de Montréal the other day.  While I was ranting about the Wheat Board, he was lamenting the return of monarchist language and the restoration of pre-1982 national identifications.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Check out Jason Kenney and his “Dominion Day Address” this past summer.  I’m still not sure it isn’t more about these guys, than about genuine devotion to the crown. 

5.  And finally Le Plan Nord.  If you don’t live in Quebec, the odds are you’ve never heard of this.  Even if you do live in Quebec the odds are pretty good that you haven’t heard of this.  Here’s how the website describes it: Véhicules électriques

“Le Plan Nord est le projet d’une génération. Le Plan Nord a d’abord été l’expression d’une vision du développement durable du Québec. À compter de maintenant, il est l’un des plus grands chantiers de développement économique, social et environnemental de notre époque. Le Plan Nord se déploiera sur une période de 25 ans. Il entraînera des investissements de plus de 80 milliards de dollars durant cette période et permettra de créer ou de consolider en moyenne 20 000 emplois par année, soit l’équivalent de 500 000 personnes-année. Le Plan Nord sera aux prochaines décennies ce que le développement de la Manicouagan et la Baie-James aura été aux décennies 60 et 70.”

Not wanting to suggest it’s only Conservative governments I’m concerned about, it’s also conservative Liberal governments that concern me too.

There’s my rant.  I could have gone on and on.  I could have talked about back-to-work legislation and pipelines and ignoring the Kyoto Accord and gold-embossed business cards but I’m pretty sure I’ve already alienated a good chunk of my readers.  Despite having been brought up in a household where we never openly discussed who we voted for, I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve when it comes to politics these days.  I’m disturbed and agitated.  I’m angry and wary.  I’m anxious and deeply concerned.  I write letters so frequently to Stephen Harper that they’ve stopped even acknowledging them.  So yeah, I ranted in a post.